Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, April 21st, 2018

The task is, not so much to see what no one has yet seen; but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees.

Erwin Schrodinger

S North
Both ♠ 10 9 3
 Q J 4 3
 Q 8 4
♣ Q 10 6
West East
♠ 7
 10 8 5
 9 5 3 2
♣ A K J 9 4
♠ J 6 4 2
 A K 9
♣ 8 7 5 3 2
♠ A K Q 8 5
 7 6 2
 A K J 10 7
♣ —
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 2 ♠ Pass
4 ♠ All pass    


Has it ever occurred to you that the act of setting bridge problems has something in common with Schrodinger’s Cat? I thought not. Maybe that is too eggheaded a comparison, but there is something to be said for the idea that solving a problem written down on paper is not the same as doing so at the table, because by giving someone a problem and making them aware that there is a catch, it ceases to be as much of a problem.

Enough of such nonsense: let us look at today’s deal, where I suspect if you were to encounter the hand at the table in four spades, a sizeable percentage of the population would ruff the opening lead and draw trumps, expecting to be able to claim 10 winners. But in problem-land, as opposed to real life, wouldn’t you expect something to be rotten in the state of Denmark?

If trumps are 4-1 with West having the length, you appear to be in deep trouble. What happens if it is East who has the long trump, with diamonds also breaking in unfriendly fashion? To solve the problem of transportation between your two hands, ruff the club king, then cash the spade ace, unblocking dummy’s spade nine. Take the spade king, unblocking the spade 10 from the board, and lead a diamond to the queen. You can next finesse the spade eight, draw the last trump and claim.

Facing a direct double, you would bid two hearts now; but the range for a balancing double is somewhat lower, so a free bid here should be a slightly better hand than this. You can pass, relying on your partner to reopen if he has real extras. If the opponents go back to two diamonds, you can balance with two hearts. I’d bid two hearts with the heart king instead of the queen, so it is very close.


♠ 10 9 3
 Q J 4 3
 Q 8 4
♣ Q 10 6
South West North East
Pass Pass Dbl. 1 ♠

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


A V Ramana RaoMay 5th, 2018 at 10:48 am

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Very instructive one. And in a way Quantum Physics is like life. Just as life behaves in a way if you live with surrender and entirely different way when you try to control it. ( In a lighter vein- just like certain people who behave in a certain way when are being observed and in an entirely different way when they know that they are not). Well ,one gets philosophical enough reading Quantum Physics and Bridge too!!

bobbywolffMay 5th, 2018 at 12:12 pm


In spite of what I know about Quantum Physics (QP), you can stick in your eye, my sheer guess is that, what you say about the similarities between QP and bridge playing is right on.

Winning in bridge (even at very high levels) is not dependent as much on just technique (all the players, such as unblocking the 9 and 10 on today’s hand in trumps, without even pausing for significant thought, just comes naturally). However, the discussion with the BWTA, about value showing between partners (even if they differ, as long as they both are aware of each other’s tendencies) becomes the key to success, since a large percentage of hands (in the bidding, but also on defense, especially with choices of blind opening leads).

Just another reason to consider while gaining experience, especially when one has several partners, since “feeling” the differences enables scoring well, at least IMO, above every other consideration. Philosophical, YES, but as necessary as eating and sleeping in real life.

Thanks also, for your comparison about being observed or not.